Kung Pao Craggy Tofu
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Recipe courtesy of Young Sun Huh for Food Network Kitchen

Kung Pao Craggy Tofu

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 day 40 min (includes freezing and thawing times)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Freezing and thawing tofu twice creates tiny little holes that give it a pleasantly chewy, springy and addictive texture. Broken into craggy, bite-size pieces, the tofu just soaks up the tangy, sweet and spicy kung pao sauce. You’ll need to plan ahead, but this technique is easy and worth the effort. For the dried red chiles, look for a medium-hot Chinese one, such as Facing Heaven or Tianjin. Mexican chile de árbol also worked well in testing.






  1. For the tofu: About 2 days before cooking, freeze the tofu in its package until frozen solid, at least 8 hours and up to overnight. Thaw the tofu (still in its package) at room temperature by submerging it in a bowl of water, 3 to 4 hours. Repeat this process of freezing and thawing the tofu.
  2. Remove the thawed block of tofu from its package and gently squeeze between flattened palms to get rid of excess water. Break the tofu into craggy bite-size pieces (about 1 inch) and spread out on a paper towel-lined plate. Gently blot the top with more paper towel.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch, egg white, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl. Add the tofu pieces and gently toss until evenly coated.
  4. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot enough for the tofu to sizzle right away, fry the tofu (in 2 batches to avoid overcrowding), flipping halfway through frying, until very crisp and golden brown all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to blot excess oil. Reserve the oil.
  5. For the sauce: Whisk the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, wine, cornstarch, sesame oil and 1/2 cup water in a bowl or measuring cup until the sugar and cornstarch have dissolved.
  6. For the stir-fry: Have the sauce, fried tofu, and remaining ingredients prepped and ready by the stovetop. Remove 2 tablespoons of oil from frying the tofu and heat in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and chiles and stir briefly to start toasting, 5 to 10 seconds. Add the scallion bottoms, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly until starting to brown, 10 to 20 seconds. Give the sauce a last-minute stir, then add to the skillet (be careful of the steam). Add the tofu and toss in the sauce. When the sauce is thickened, after 15 to 30 seconds, remove from the heat. Continue tossing the tofu until completely coated. Stir in the peanuts and scallion tops. Serve right away with hot rice.